The Download: Michael Doernberg, CEO, eMinor, Inc.

Mike Doernberg is the CEO and Co-Founder of eMinor, Inc. Founded in 2006, eMinor has built three world-class software platforms across a diverse set of industries. ReverbNation is among the leading music marketing platforms, serving more than 5 million artists worldwide. Adwerx, which was spun out of eMinor in 2014, offers simple digital advertising for real estate companies. In 2018, eMinor launched PlayMetrics, an organization management platform for youth sports.

Mike has a long history of success in technology-driven business. Prior to eMinor, his two previous ventures led to acquisitions: SmartPath was acquired by Doubleclick (Google) and The Marathon Group was acquired by Merant PLC. During the early part of his career, Mike worked for Ernst & Young after graduating from NC State University. He is an advisor to Bull City Venture Partners and has held board positions for a wide range of organizations, including the North Carolina School of Science and Math, The NC Council for Entrepreneurial Development, and as a Co-Chair of the CED Venture Conference. He was named one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People in Business.

1. What is in your pockets?
My wallet, which is getting increasingly thinner as I carry less and less stuff in it. I’m pretty much down to one credit card, $20 and a license. And then I’ve got oversized key fobs and lint.

2. What exciting thing has happened recently for you or your organization?
What I think is most exciting about our business is how it’s been evolving over the last couple of years. Particularly the last year, as we began to really stretch our wings a little bit in terms of the things we’re going after.

One of the things we’ve done is really focus on some of the core problems that musicians have. We’re getting ready to launch a product at the beginning of the year that I’m incredibly excited about because it’s the culmination of about three years worth of work that includes testing and learning about new ways to help market and promote music. It’s very effective in all the tests, and I’m excited to bring it to the world because it’s really taking advantage of the incredible technical capabilities we have in the company and we’ve innovated around it and that’s making me very, very excited. So that’s one thing.

The second thing is that we started incubating a new business outside of music called PlayMetrics that’s focused on youth sports. Watching that product come together has been amazing. It’s really a beautiful and very elegant product.

Uniting those ideas together, the thing that I’m really excited about is the way our cross-discipline team is really shaping these ideas. It’s been incredibly exciting to watch really talented people work together and the things that they can create if you put them in the right environment and you give them the right direction. It’s just, every now and then you get your company firing on all cylinders where people are motivated, they’re aligned and it’s one of those things where you catch lightning in a bottle and it’s been really exciting to see.

3. What is your favorite coffee spot?
I love coffee so this a bit of a tough question, but my favorite coffee shop is Jubala Coffee for two reasons. One, they have great coffee, and two, they’ve got an incredible sweet biscuit. We also have some of the finest coffee in the entire area at our office, including Counter Culture and Joe Van Gogh.

4. What keeps you up at night?
The truth is: nothing. I sleep like a baby. I really do. I think if you asked me what worries me, generally speaking, is this tremendous polarization that’s going on. I think most people don’t really buy into that polarization. But it seems to be uncontrollable at this point and it impacts us in all kinds of different ways. The implications are significant because it introduces tremendous uncertainty and a lot of friction in being able to get things done. I wouldn’t necessarily say it keeps me up at night, but I would say I spend a lot more time being concerned about that than I do about anything in the business.

5. What is your favorite restaurant or happy hour?
I’ve been really into Bida Manda, which is in downtown Raleigh. I really like that restaurant.

6. What is next for you or your organization?
It’s commercializing the things that we’ve been working on for the last year. If 2019 was about invention, 2020 is about commercializing, and all the things that go along with that. It’s not just commercializing; commercializing also has its own set of inventions as well. But I think there’s a transition to where you go from a place where you’re developing new ideas to where you’re perfecting new ideas. So 2020, to me, is about perfecting the ideas that we have developed in 2019 and it should be a pretty exciting time for our employees, customers, and investors. That’s what I’m looking forward to.

For me personally, it’s about evolving the way I run a business and allowing the people that are our management team to own more of the business, do more things and to find their own path. Which has been exciting because one of the things that we’ve been afforded the opportunity to do was to give different people more ownership of aspects of the business, which is allowing them to develop in their careers. I have an amazing management team. I’ve been working with a lot of these guys for 20 years and the people that I have not been working with for 20 years, they’re superstars, spectacular in their own right. So it’s been fun watching and learning from them.

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About Brooks Malone 50 Articles
Brooks Malone is a NC CPA and Partner with Hughes Pittman & Gupton, LLP, and leads the Technology practice group. Brooks is also listed contributor to the National Fast Trac Tech Curriculum that was funded by the Kauffman Foundation. Brooks was named one of the 40 Under 40 in May 2005 by the TBJ, received the Outstanding service to Entrepreneurs Award in 2008 by CED, and named to the Leadership Raleigh Hall of Fame in October 2011. Brooks is a graduate of North Carolina State University and is active at American Underground and Raleigh Founded.